Charlie Wilson's War?
Those who were involved in actually helping the Afghans say that a more accurate title would be
Charlie Wilson, Mossad's Whore: How a corrupt US congressman was manipulated into selling out the Afghan mujahideen and betraying American interests for Israeli money, ultimately resulting in the Taliban's rise to power in Afghanistan
"Neocons" in Charlie Wilson's family woodpile?
Strange things happen on Christmas in Washington
Did Stinger missiles defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan? The stories and numbers don't add up
"Getting even" with the USSR for Vietnam? Apparently the CIA couldn't count
Why the war placed almost no extra burden on the Soviet economy
How "Wilson's Warriors" conducted a bold and bloody raid...in Arlington, VA
Wilson's supposed change of heart
Chronology of the war and US aid to the mujahideen
If $2 billion in aid could defeat the USSR, the US is getting ripped off every year
Did women fawn over, or flee from, Wilson?
Herring and Fawcett
Avrakotos and his predecessors at the CIA
Did Charlie Do it? The Assassination of Pakistan's President Zia ul-Haq
The first neocon job
Why the CIA shunned its own like Avrakotos, while lionizing Wilson
The neocons and the rise of the Taliban
In a last bizarre twist to one of the most sordid and obscure chapters of American political history, a Hollywood film was made inaccurately portraying and glorifying the exploits of a not-too-bright, alcoholic US Congressman who later left office in disgrace after being found guilty of illegal campaign fundraising and went to work as a lobbyist for the Israelis.
Information compiled from a variety of sources, including those individuals who were working directly with the Afghans, contradicts most of the film's story, as well as what has come to be believed about that war in general.
The highly fictionalized portrayal of Charles Wilson in this film as the architect and hero of the Afghans' resistance efforts, as in the factually inaccurate book, Charlie Wilson's War, on which it was based, has to be assumed to be part of his payment for services rendered, arranged with the US publishing and film industries by his Israeli employers. The historical reality, according to those who were on the ground helping the Afghans continuously during the time period depicted was, in many aspects, totally opposite of that which was portrayed. Indeed, both the book and the movie seemed intended to divert the readers'/viewers' thinking from the logical conclusion that Wilson was deliberately promoting the interests of himself and a foreign government instead of the interests of the US and the American people. This was shown by his relationship with the Mossad agent Zvi Rafiah.
Some additional excerpts from the book on this matter, and commentary which puts them into perspective can be found at the following site. (The extent, if any, of Pakistani ISI involvement in later events is highly speculative and needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but that speculation does not change the other connections that are shown to be openly discussed in the book)
George Crile, the author of the book, seems to have wanted the reader to believe it was perfectly acceptable, for example, for a US congressman to allow someone he suspected (knew?) was a Mossad agent to have free run of his office in the mid-1980s. (Not unusual in Washington perhaps, but most Americans would be outraged if they knew that an intelligence agent of a country which has conducted numerous hostile actions and acts of espionage against the US was even being allowed into the Congressional office buildings where highly sensitive and often classified information is handled.) This may have been an attempt to make it seem as if the involvement of the Israelis in the Afghanistan operation was open and accepted at the time. In fact, although as early as 1985 some of those who were actually helping the Afghan mujahideen had been aware of, and trying to draw attention to, the true nature of Israeli involvement, even a decade after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan any connection other than minor arms purchases from Israel was being denied by those in the media and the US government. However, after September 11, 2001 there began a campaign to falsely paint the Israelis as major benefactors of the anti-Soviet resistance, even to the point of trying to claim those such as President Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan were fully aware and supportive of such alleged involvement.
Even before examining the historical facts, there seem to be some very curious connections between the book/film and Charles Wilson's life and political career that may shed some light on how this rather bizarre film came about.
George Crile tried to create the image of Charles Wilson having independently developed his interest in, and slavish devotion to, Israel, while having no personal, political, or financial connections to Israelis, or even the American Jewish community. On page 32 of his book, discussing Wilson's supposed lack of Jewish background/connections and constituency in his hometown of Lufkin, TX, Crile admonishes the reader, "But believe me, there are no Jews in Lufkin". Since Crile had a reputation as an investigative reporter, we have to assume he would have made at least some minimal effort to find out the facts about Wilson's early life and hometown, even if only to ask Wilson about them. There are no synagogues in Lufkin. Thus, surveys that calculate the percentage of particular religious groups in various cities by the number of members in the congregations at the various houses of worship in those cities, do show 0% Jews in Lufkin. However, Nacogdoches just a few miles to the north is well known as an early center of immigration for Jewish settlers in Texas, and the Unitarian church in Lufkin is frequently a venue for Jewish speakers and cultural activities. Those facts alone indicate that some portion of the population of Lufkin almost certainly is Jewish in origin, whether or not devout in current practice. With that background knowledge, it then took someone skeptical of Crile's statement about there being no Jews in Lufkin less than 3 minutes of research to find the following.
Lufkin Industries is one of the town's major businesses, and publicity concerning its history includes:
Lufkin Industries was founded in the East Texas town of Lufkin, which itself was founded in 1882 as a stop on the Texas Railway that ran from Houston to Shreveport, Louisiana. It was named after Abraham P. Lufkin, a prominent Galveston merchant, politician, and friend of the railroad's president. As a railroad stop, the town quickly became a commercial center, and lumber became its main trade. Three men came to dominate the business: German immigrant Joseph H. Kurth, Sr.; Sam Weiner, of German Jewish ancestry and raised in Mississippi; and Georgia-born Simon Wood Henderson, Sr. In 1890 they joined forces to form Angelina County Lumber Company...[that evolved into Lufkin Foundry & Machine Company, and ultimately into Lufkin Industries]
Weiner's descendants are still involved in the business in Lufkin. The surname of Abraham Lufkin also indicates Jewish origns, whatever religion the founder of the company my have professed at the time, and several other individuals with names that are undoubtedly of Jewish origin appear among the directors and managers of the company. Evidence that Lufkin industries has some unusually strong ties to the international Jewish community was uncovered by just a few more moments of research, which found that Lufkin Industries was the only advertiser in the industrial equipment category to currently (December 2007) have "Platinum member" status on a rather interesting web site called JewishMillionaire.com.
Elsewhere on that site is an explanation of its function and purpose:
Jewish Millionaire.com is the leading provider of online marketing services for importers, exporters, and service providers of million dollar companies. Bringing together carefully screened companies locally and from around the globe, we provide the tools needed to efficiently maximize business to business online.
What makes Jewish Millionaire.com different from any other website? We realize that some individuals prefer to do business with others of the same religion and culture, making it easier to relate to one another. Therefore, this is the first online marketing service in which businesses have the option of being identified by their religion and/or culture. [emphasis added]
A reader of this web page recently provided some additional information, on Jews in Lufkin. The Jewish Hearld of Houston, in its November 19, 1908 edition, identified "Mr. C. L. Schloss, editor of Lufkin Daily News", as a member of the Texas Jewish community who was visiting Houston at that time. And, a well known Jewish sports writer in Houston, Morris Frank, who died in the 1970s had gotten his start in the 1930s at the Lufkin Daily News. Born in New Jersey, he was the son of a Jewish merchant who had moved his family to Lufkin. It seems realtively certain that these were not the only Jewish journalists to have worked at the Lufkin Daily News, much less to have lived in Lufkin, and unless Wilson's neighbors carried out a pogrom that drove them all out, they or their descendants are obviously still there.
It must be concluded that there was an attempt on the part of Crile and/or Wilson to conceal the fact that there has long been a rich, influential (dominating both the local economy and news media) Jewish community in Wilson's East Texas environs of Lufkin, even though its members may now commute there from estates outside the city limits. Thus, Crile's admonition to "...believe me...." on the matter of the supposed total absence of Jews in Lufkin, Texas, which could be so easily checked, should be remembered when judging the veracity of the book and subsequent movie in relation to conversations and events that took place in private meetings or in remote places that can not be independently corroborated, but which the readers of his book, and the movie viewers, are expected to believe. (See also the comments elsewhere on this web page by a Pakistani concerning Crile's not only false, but nonsensical, claims about statements supposedly made by Pakistani officials)
A very strange resemblance
Some observers believe they know the motive behind that attempt to distance Wilson from any Jewish connection or influence before he came to Washington.
The fact that Aaron Sorkin, the Hollywood screen writer of Charlie Wilson's War, seen in this first photo, is of New York Jewish origins is no surprise.
What is surprising, is the very close physical resemblance to the former congressman from Texas, Charles Wilson, seen here in his younger days.
Given that Wilson is old enough to be Sorkin's father, there has naturally been speculation that is the case, and that is the reason/relationship that led to Sorkin writing the screenplay about Wilson. However, some observers contend that the activities of Wilson's mother in the years just before his birth are the key to the connection, and that, despite the age gap, Wilson and Sorkin were actually fathered by the same individual, with it being his influence and money that bought Wilson's otherwise difficult to explain early success in politics. This would also provide a reason beyond the purely financial for Wilson's extraordinary attachment to Israel.
In any event, the two men do certainly also seem related in their willingness to accept undeserved honors, their use of intoxicants to excess, their reckless violation of laws, and their similar intellectual levels which might best be described by a famous a line uttered by one of the previous characters Tom Hanks portrayed: "Stupid is, as....." For example, in 2001, shortly after having received an award for supposedly overcoming his drug problems, Sorkin was arrested in a California airport for possession of cocaine, marijuana, and hallucinogenic mushrooms. His varied stash was discovered by the authorities when Sorkin set off the airport metal detector by attempting to pass through it while carrying a metal "crack" pipe in his pocket. Wilson's similarly stupid and reckless actions are legend, and some are even depicted in the movie.
Every day is Christmas in Washington, DC
In Washington, if someone has embarrassing information which has to be made public sooner or later, they usually wait until a Friday afternoon to release it. That way it goes into the Saturday newspapers, which are the lowest circulation and least read papers of the week. Similarly the Saturday TV news has a small audience, and usually gives minimal coverage to news so as to be able to devote more time to sports. By extension, if there is news that needs to be dropped as far down the "memory hole" as possible, and which can be delayed in its release, the best day of the year to have it appear in the newspapers is Christmas Day. Not only is reading the morning paper a low priority for most people on Christmas, even the people working for the newspapers on Christmas Eve aren't paying much attention to what is being reported in them. It is also an excellent day for releasing news that is likely to be poorly received by most of the population but well received by the small portion not opening Christmas presents or going to church services, and instead reading the paper on Christmas as on any other day.
When Charles Wilson departed Congress in 1996 in disgrace after being found guilty of illegal fundraising, he was prevented by law from actively lobbying on behalf of clients for one year. When his waiting period was up in November 1997, one of his first major clients was Israeli Military Industries Ltd. (and specifically their US sales arm, the innocuous sounding, IMI Services USA) - something that came as no surprise to those who understood who had benefited from Wilson's weapons dealings during the war in Afghanistan. It was also no great surprise that the news of the now open political-influence-for-pay arrangement between the Israelis and Wilson did not appear in the Washington Post's "Special Interests: Lobbying Washington" column until over a month later, on December 25, 1997. In a similar case of not releasing information until it was no longer news, Gust Avrakotos, the CIA agent portrayed in the film, died on December 1, 2005, but his obituary did not appear in the Washington Post until December 25 of that year.
Is it just a coincidence that a film about the supposed exploits of Wilson and Avrakotos was originally scheduled to have its official release on December 25? (Its release was moved up to December 21 only a few weeks prior to that date.) Releasing a movie at Christmas about licentious activities in the US, and deceitful, corrupt weapons dealings around the world supposedly motivated by the desire on the part of the characters to not only kill "Russians" but to do so "as painfully as possible", seems an intentional insult to the great majority of Americans who associate the time of year with a message of peace, love, and forgiveness. Those familiar with the ways and words in Washington, DC have suggested that the timing of the release of the film is an inside joke. With the possibility of their words being secretly recorded, or even the most trusted partners in crime deciding to truthfully testify about what was said in private conversations if facing long prison terms for obstruction of investigations or for perjury, all but the most brazenly corrupt politicians will avoid openly referring to a "bribe" or "kickback". High among the euphemisms used, is "Christmas present". Whereas it is difficult to lie one's way out of being caught speaking about wanting, or having taken, bribes or kickbacks, one might be able to persuade one's constituents or a jury that when one asked for a "Christmas present", it was only a joke. Similarly if a politician is found to have taken an inappropriate payment in cash or kind that was described as a "Christmas present", rather than as a "payoff", he can contend that it was just poor judgment not to have refused the inappropriate "gift". If the book and movie are part of Charles Wilson's payment for enriching arms dealers and advancing the agendas of domestic and foreign political groups at the expense of US national interests, then release of the film as a "Christmas present" fits perfectly with the cynical nature of such deals in Washington.
The lie that Stinger missiles won the war in Afghanistan: propaganda numbers that don't add up
Considering the incompetence of those who work for the CIA, it is no surprise that the supposedly covert delivery of Stinger missiles to the Afghan rebels was repeatedly the subject of front page newspaper articles even months before it actually took place. They seemed not to grasp the concept of "covert", nor the element of surprise. Upon closer examination though, it appears that those missiles were given to the Afghans mainly for domestic propaganda and advertising purposes, and actually had little or no military impact.
The stories and claims about Stingers being the super weapon that defeated the Soviets are never accompanied by any evidence that would back them up. Ratios of missiles fired to helicopters and planes said to have been destroyed, or the supposed number of aircraft shot out of the air per day, are often tossed about, but never with any supporting statistics that could be used to verify them. Such basic facts as how many Soviet aircraft were shot down by all means during the ten years of that war, and how many of those were shot down before and after the Stinger missiles were given to the Afghans, are never presented in support of the claims about the effect the Stingers supposedly had. The one study that actually compiled and analyzed those numbers, and put them in the context of the larger events of the war, was done by someone who was involved on the ground helping the Afghans in that war, and who later went on to earn a Ph.D. with his research on early failures in US intelligence gathering and analysis concerning the Soviets. It shows the utter impossibility of the claims made for the Stingers. See: Stinger in Afghanistan
In ten years of war, the USSR lost less than 350 helicopters to all causes in Afghanistan. (In comparison, by official count, the US lost just over 4800 helicopters in Vietnam, but the true number may have been more than twice that, due to an accounting method which allowed almost totally destroyed helicopters' identifying numbers to be assigned to ones built from essentially all new parts, yet be claimed to have been "repaired" rather than lost/destroyed in combat.) Only a small percentage of the USSR helicopters and planes lost were shot down during the years the Stingers were present in Afghanistan. The Soviets were planning their withdrawal long before the Stingers arrived, and had begun scaling back air attacks more than half a year before the first aircraft were attacked with Stinger missiles. The rate of decline in air attacks may have actually slowed in the year following the introduction of the Stinger missiles to the war.
Someone very familiar with Charles Wilson's part in getting the Stingers provided to the Afghans ostensibly because he wanted to "kill Russians", who believes it was instead largely motivated by direct or indirect under-the-table payments from defense contractors and arms dealers, raised an interesting point. If the goal really was to shoot down Soviet aircraft, and not just generate publicity and greater sales for the Stingers, why did Wilson display in his office as a "trophy" of the effort, the empty launch tube from the first Stinger said to have shot down a helicopter in Afghanistan, and not a piece of wreckage from the helicopter? It is as if a hunter displayed just the empty rifle cartridge from the rifle round with which he claimed to have shot a killer grizzly bear, instead of displaying the head, or hide, or at least a claw; highly unlikely unless he was a salesman for the ammunition company, and had never actually killed the bear. It indicates that the important thing in Wilson's mind was the expensive military hardware he caused to be purchased, rather than any results from it.
What the CIA considered "Getting Even" with the USSR for Vietnam
It is often claimed that a major motivation in the CIA aid program to the Afghans was a desire to make the USSR suffer the same sort of losses as the US did in Vietnam; it was said to be "payback", "taking revenge", "getting even"... for Vietnam. Although the two wars lasted approximately the same number of years, the losses and expense inflicted on the USSR were a small fraction of those the US suffered. Those on the ground with the Afghans attribute that in large part to the ineffectiveness and inappropriateness of the CIA program aiding the Afghans, with its concentration on specific weapons rather than encouraging and facilitating the sort of classic escalating guerrilla warfare for which Afghanistan would have been an even more ideal environment than Vietnam.
Here are some comparative statistics:
Americans killed in Vietnam: more than 58,000
Soviets killed in Afghanistan: less than 15,000 (The Soviets had approximately the same number of soldiers die annually during service/training inside the USSR as died in Afghanistan each year. That has led some, even in the USSR, to speculate that additional Afghanistan fatalities were hidden among the numbers for fatalities inside the USSR. Even if that was true, it would not bring the total to half the number of US fatalities in Vietnam. However, the yearly number of military fatalities inside the USSR appears to have actually risen slightly after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, making it unlikely that it was being inflated during the war years by inclusion of war fatalities among the domestic military ones during that period.)
American aircraft lost in Vietnam: more than 8500 (perhaps as many as 14,000)
Soviet aircraft lost in Afghanistan: less than 500
American military expenditure for the Vietnam war: $615 billion in inflation adjusted 2007 $
Soviet military expenditure for the war in Afghanistan: $94 billion in inflation adjusted 2007 $ (This figure, however, comes from the CIA. The real figure may be much lower. Eduard Shevardnadze, who was Soviet foreign minister during the latter part of the war, said in his book The Future Belongs to Freedom, that the war cost the USSR 60 billion rubles (pg.58) Although at the official exchange rate this matches with the approx. $50 billion figure used by the CIA at the time of the war, at a realistic exchange rate it would have been about one-fourth that amount in dollars.
(For comparison, American military expenditure in Afghanistan 2001-2007: The official figure is $78 billion, but minimum actual costs have been at least $125 billion, and some estimates are more than twice that. So, the US has spent more fighting the current war in Afghanistan than the Soviets spent on their war in the 1980s. The extension of the US involvement in Afghanistan proposed in late 2009 will, even as calcualted by relatively conservative analysts, bring the total cost to the US to approximately $1 trillon, and, since mosts analysts believe the US involvement will extend well beyond the 2011 pull-out date naively or deceptively given, the ultimate costs will be far greater.)
American final troop withdrawal from Vietnam was a scene of chaos, captured in the image of American CIA officials physically beating away their loyal Vietnamese former employees as the latter tried desperately tried to get aboard the last helicopters out.
Soviet final troop withdrawal from Afghanistan was a leisurely, orderly, border crossing scene, captured in the image of the Soviet commanding general who looked like he had his hair professionally styled that morning especially for the occasion, giving statements to the press.
Did the expense of the war in Afghanistan bring down the USSR?
Some might try to argue that the economy of the USSR was smaller than that of the US, and thus fighting the war in Afghanistan was proportionally a greater drain on them than Vietnam was for the US. However, a major reason why their economy was smaller in its consumer side was that so much was devoted to, and tied up in, the military side. As the war in Vietnam escalated, the US needed to divert financial resources away from the consumer sector to build up the military. This was initially hidden by the government being able to print more money, but it showed up soon after in the near run-away inflation of consumer prices in the Ford and Carter years. The USSR already had a huge military, and it did not have to expand it to keep the relatively small force in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Thus, military build-up and additional expenditures in Vietnam put a great strain on the US economy, and can be seen as having been one of the major initiating causes of the very serious economic troubles that the US is now facing in the 21st century which includes the added burden of the current US involvement in Afghanistan. The Soviet war in Afganistan was carried out largely within the existing Soviet military budget, and thus was unlikely to have even been a minor straw that finally broke the decrepit camel's financial back. A few hundred pieces more of military hardware left intact at the end of the 1980s would not have made any significant difference to the Soviet economy. The equivalent of three dollars a month in extra combat pay, times 120,000 soldiers, certainly didn't cause any financial hardship on the Soviet government. With the arms manufacturers being owned by the government, there weren't even any significant opportunities for them and the "Charlie Wilsowitzes" of that part of the world to collude on defense contracts and arms deals.
Taking the above mentioned 60 billion ruble figure given by Eduard Shevardnadze , we can compare it to Gorbachev's alcohol reform in 1985 which was designed to fight alcoholism, but failed to have much effect in doing so. The increasing of prices, and placing restrictions on where alcohol could be bought and consumed, are estimated to have cost the Soviet government 100 billion rubles when people began to buy their alcohol on the black market instead of from the government shops. So, in the unlikely event that the economic collapse of the USSR was war-related, it would have been far more Gorbachev and the "War on Alcoholism", rather than "Charlie Wilson's War", that was responsible for the fall of the Soviet empire -- rather ironic, given Wilson's drinking problems.
The hollow core of the story
Many of the most important aspects of the "Charlie Wilson's War" story are impossible to verify. The majority of them depend on what supposedly took place in closed, and often secret, meetings. Whether or not the accounts of what was said and took place are likely to be true must be gauged by those things in the story which we can check. A great many people have noted that George Crile's book contained many errors about simple things that would have been easy to verify. Those with military knowledge have noted that he made numerous obvious mistakes about the weapons and military matters that were unlikely if the information was provided by anyone who had actually been involved with them, leading the readers to believe Crile either made them up himself, or heard them from people who had no real knowledge, and thus couldn't have been providing reliable firsthand information. Even people with little knowledge of politics or the military found themselves questioning the accuracy of the information in the book after they saw that Crile had made errors in mundane things familiar to them, such as one concerning a popular sports figure from Avrakotos' hometown. The book perpetuated many claims from the war which had been shown to be propaganda fabrications or distortions long before he wrote the book. One of those concerned Wilson seeing a child in a hospital in Pakistan who had been wounded by a "butterfly mine", which Crile described as a device produced to look like a toy that would attract the attention of children with the intention of maiming them when they investigated it. It must be remembered that Crile had worked for the TV program, 60 Minutes all during the war, and that he would have been in contact with, and likely directly in charge of, research and fact checking on such matters. A butterfly mine is so called because it has a vaguely butterfly-like form that allows it to fall somewhat gently when scattered from aircraft. It is a standard military device, and those used in Afghanistan were all either olive drab or brownish tan, to camouflage them against the ground, not brightly colored like butterflies, or birds, or toys. (Although the US was among the first countries to promote an international landmine ban in the 1990s, ostensibly due at least in part to the concern over innocent civilians accidentally getting killed and maimed by them in places like Afghanistan, the neocons of the Bush administration in 2004 declared they would use such mines indefinitely and anywhere they chose, regardless of international treaties.) The reports of "toy bombs" or "toy mines" were pervasive in the early years of the war. However, after some of the most vehemently anti-Soviet Westerners working independently with the Afghans offered substantial rewards for even fragmentary physical evidence of such devices, it became evident that no such devices could be found. Careful questioning of the Afghans ultimately determined that there were no credible firsthand accounts of them. (Some purported photographic evidence during the war failed to hold up to even cursory analysis, and was later totally discredited.)
Two critical elements of the Charlie Wilson's War story as told by Crile are 1.) Joanne Herring's role; whether she was truly the force that set things in motion, and if so, whether she served as a knowing or unwitting "straw (wo)man" for others who were manipulating Wilson and the CIA. 2.) What really took place in Wilson and Herring's meetings with Pakistani government officials. The first question will be dealt with elsewhere, but as far as Crile's reporting on the second, it is totally lacking in credibility. He depicts the Pakistani leaders behaving in ways that are totally at odds with reality, and attributes highly implausible actions to them. While it is impossible to prove what actually did or did not take place in closed meetings, especially with those on the Pakistani side having been conveniently assassinated before the book was written, the words he attributes to them reveal the lack of truth in that part of the story. Although Crile could easily slip such things past the average American reader, they were quite obviously nonsensical to those who were familiar with the people, place, culture, or language. The following comments are from a reader review of the book on the amazon.com site. As the writer points out these are not esoteric and obscure points, but major things which any Pakistani (or anyone with more than an elementary familiarity with Pakistani culture and history) could tell were false. He gives Crile the benefit of the doubt as to his intentions, but finds the words attributed to the Pakistani officials so ludicrous that he considers it not worth even discussing the characteristics and actions Crile falsely attributed to them:
(book review from) http://www.amazon.com/review/product/0802141242?filterBy=addOneStar
Inaccurate information, July 2, 2003
By R. Aamer, Woodbridge, NJ
I am originally from Pakistan and that's why I looked forward to reading this book since I witnessed the effects of Afghan war in my country. There is really an acute shortage of material on this topic and when I heard about this book, I couldn't wait to get it.
It started off amazing. Although Mr. Crile has not specifically stated his sources, I generally trusted what he was saying (he being a journalist, sources being attached to sensitive organizations and what not) but all my excitement deflated when I reached page 60 something where Mr. Crile describes the relations of Joanne Herring and General Zia. He wrote that Joanne was called "sir" in Pakistan. Give me a break. Maybe some peon in some office may have called her "sir" but that doesn't qualify as a fact worth quoting. The bigger and more outrageous claim was just a few lines down on the same page where Mr. Crile says that Joanne Herring was given the highest honor that Pakistani Government can give and that is the title of "Quid-e-Azam" translated as "The Great Leader". I dropped first my jaw and then the book when I read that. It's ridiculous. It's so painfully obvious to me that Mr. Crile's sources were exaggerating and Mr. Crile didn't do any effort to corroborate the information. Had he'd done that, he would have come to known that the title of "Quid-e-Azam" is reserved for the founder of Pakistan, M. A. Jinnah and it's not conferred upon anyone else by Pakistan Government. It's like saying that US president honored someone with the title of "The Founding Father". As I said, it's ridiculous. I could give him the benefit of doubt if there was an honor which sounded like "Quid-e-Azam". There isn't. They are all like 'Nishan-e-Imtiaz", "Sitara-e-Imtiaz" etc. and none of their meanings come anywhere close to "The Great Leader". Its not that I think that Mr. Crile is lying. He just heard something and quoted it in a "history" book. Historians used to be a bit more cautious in recording facts. Had he'd tried to verify that from any (and I mean ANY, it's that common knowledge) Pakistani, he/she would have told him that that "fact" can not possibly be true.
That was it for me. The book's credibility was GONE. I tried to go beyond that and read some 100 pages more but now that I knew for sure that Mr. Crile's sources had passed him blown up info and he hadn't verified it, the only way I could read it anymore was to consider it a work of fiction but then, its not written very well for a fictional book.
I have a lot more to say about how Mr. Cile's sources have described Zia and some other things but I won't. It's useless.
Wilson's brand of politics depended heavily on closed meetings. He could tell his constituents and political allies that he had taken positions totally opposite those he really had, claim he had fought hard to get concessions that were actually either never made or made freely with no effort on his part, and pretend he had come up with ideas or plans that were really those of others. That is an additional reason why he so seldom spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives where his words and positions would have been on the public record. When eight or nine of ten things he promised to people didn't come about, he could blame the others involved in those private meetings (or who were supposedly involved, as sometimes the alleged meetings never really took place) for not keeping their parts of the supposed bargains. Then he would point to the one or two things that had turned out as he said they would, take credit for them even though he might have actually opposed them, and imply that if sufficient gratitude wasn't shown for those, that he would see to it that the ingrates would get nothing they wanted in the future. Those who had opportunity to confront Wilson say that his tactic when caught in what was obviously a lie when the reality turned out to be quite different from what he claimed had been said or done, was for him to try to use his height in an intimidating manner and go purple in the face as he bellowed in a voice resembling that of the cartoon character rooster, Foghorn Leghorn, things to the effect of, "You don't know! You wasn't in that meetin'. I was!" He would not address the substance of the matter, but would just hope that the questioner would either be intimated into silence or would decide that it was worthless to pursue questioning someone so incapable of any intellectually meaningful response. Ironically in light of that, he was reported in his younger days to have been pretty much a physical coward, especially when he hadn't been imbibing courage from a bottle. Although there are stories of him engaging in physical altercations when his size made it obvious he could easily overcome someone even more drunk than himself, they say he would back off from any potential opponent who looked as if he knew how to handle himself in a fight, even when Wilson had an advantage of 3 or 4 inches in height and 30, 40, or more pounds in weight.
One of the forgotten "victories" of "Charlie Wilson's War"; attacking a gasoline station, blowing the legs off an elderly woman, and wounding several others with a 30mm cannon in Arlington, Virginia
Charles Wilson was derisively referred to as "Wonder-weapon Wilson" by many in Afghanistan and Pakistan for his continually promoting totally inappropriate weapons as what were needed to win the war for the Afghans. Even apart from any financial or other benefits he may have been getting from the purchases of particular weapons, it was obvious that he had little understanding of guerrilla warfare or the weapons appropriate for it. He seemed not to grasp that irregular troops moving on foot through some of the most rugged mountains in the world could not do so while lugging hundreds of pounds of steel each. The difference between a small rocket that burned its propellant during flight after being launched from a tube weighing a couple of pounds, and a bullet of the same caliber with its propellant in a cartridge that burned all at once with explosive force that needed to be contained in a very heavy gun barrel, seemed beyond his intellectual ability to comprehend. Thus, in the early summer of 1986 when he was questioned about a small, very low cost, simple to produce, rocket system that would have been ideal for the situation in Afghanistan, he brushed the inquiry aside, saying that "we" (presumably he and those in the CIA) had instead put a quarter of a million dollars into a "similar" 30mm weapon that could be used against helicopters and ground targets. He did not provide many details, but knowledgeable individuals doubted its practicality, and assumed it was just Wilson obfuscating and side-stepping the matter. However, in August the new "wonder-weapon" actually made a brief, and rather spectacular, appearance. Two low intellect ex-military types of the sort the CIA tends to deal with and rely on for unorthodox projects requiring some modicum of practical skills, pulled their pickup truck into a gas station in Arlington, Virginia. They were apparently coming from CIA headquarters a few miles away, though some reports say the had been meeting with CIA and/or military officials elsewhere. In the back of their pickup they had a single barrel, single shot 30mm gun that was supposed to be carried and fired by one man, despite the fact that it weighed somewhere in the range of 100 - 125 pounds, which they had designed as a weapon that the Afghans were supposed to carry with them while running through the mountains, to use against helicopters. It was obviously the weapon that Charles Wilson had made reference to a couple months earlier. How two civilians obtained, and were allowed to be driving around in an urban area just across the river from Washington, DC with, live 30mm ammunition was never explained. (The maximum range of the weapon and ammunition was such that from most places in Arlington, they could have hit many government offices in DC, including the highest level one.) However, they proceeded to take the gun out to show it off in the gas station (to whom is not exactly clear), and chambered a live round. Not surprising for something that was the product of hillbilly engineering, the gun unexpectedly fired, and the 30mm projectile hit a gas pump at very close range. There was a fiery explosion, with shrapnel and burning gasoline flying everywhere. An elderly woman fueling her car was severely injured, losing both legs, and at least three other people were less seriously wounded. (Washington Post, Aug. 20, 1986, page C-1 "Four injured as anti-tank shell rips into gas pump") The matter quickly vanished from the news, and neither the weapon nor the quarter of a million dollars Wilson said had been put into its development were ever seen again.
Charlie Wilson's seemingly sudden turn of heart and coat when there was no longer profit to be made off weapons for the Afghans but there was prospect of enrichment from schemes to prop up the crumbling Soviet empire
When the Soviets departed Afghanistan, Charles Wilson quickly lost interest in the people and country whose plight had supposedly motivated his extraordinary actions over the previous few years. Had he really been concerned with them, really intended to help them, and really been viewed as a hero who was respected by the Afghan and leaders and their Pakistani allies, he could have influenced them in directions that would have enabled them to salvage a viable country from the rubble. There would, of course, have been the embarrassing task of trying to explain in the US, how, if the weapons and other aid supplied, had really enabled the mujahideen to militarily defeat and rout the largest army in the world, as was claimed by Wilson, the CIA, the news media, etc., so little progress was being made over a year's time against the Afghan communist forces that weren't supposed to be able to last a week on their own.
George Crile, in his book, implausibly implied that Wilson had something like soldiers' post-battle remorse/depression over the war. The true nature of what had been going on and Wilson's character makes that unlikely. Rather, all one has to do is "follow the money" to understand the sudden shift of interest; Wilson was doing as he always did. As the Soviet empire started to crumble, the neocons of the G.H.W. Bush administration frantically tried to ensure the survival of a communist government in the USSR. The simplest and best explanation can be found in the Trotskyist backgrounds of many of the early Neo-cons (see discussion of Irving Kristol, et al. elsewhere). While they wanted the post-Stalinist (but still Stalinist in basic ideology) regime out of power in the USSR, they didn't want communism to be overthrown altogether. Rather, they hoped that they could maneuver a neo-Trotskyist faction into power there that would be willing to help the US to move ahead in creating the new world order which the neocons desired. So, the first reaction was to attempt to pump money into the Soviet government, and particularly the Soviet military.
Charles Wilson was right there at the front of such efforts, saying that he had decided that the Soviets weren't such bad guys after all, and that they had a lot of problems which deserved help. He was apparently hoping to do with the Soviet state arms industries what he had done with those of the US and Israel, with the neocons and Mossad seeming eager to have him do so. (E.g. "Congressman Charlie Wilson, Not Holding His Fire", Washington Post, August 20, 1990") The prospects of brokering deals for the largest arms manufacturing concerns in the world and holding sway over appropriations of the kind of money that was being talked about to bail out the USSR and support the Soviet military (ostensibly because they lacked resources to house troops if they brought them back from Warsaw Pact countries) must have been mind boggling. However, the absurdity of the proposals and bills in Congress that would have had the US the directly supporting the Soviet Union, and especially their military, so soon after having spent billions of dollars supposedly to "defeat" them during the Cold War era, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, was a bit too much for most congressmen to try to slide past their constituents and stick to the US taxpayers, no matter what sort of enticements the neocons and lobbyists for foreign governments offered. So, most of the more outrageous of the direct aid programs were quietly dropped, and the activities of the neo-cons and Wilson in relation to the USSR, and later the FSU, had to become much lower key.
Thus, it would be wrong to say Charlie Wilson had a change of heart or was a turn-coat; his motivations, actions, loyalties, and his manipulators look remarkably consistent.
The chronology of the 1980s war in Afghanistan points to the true agenda in the US aid to the Afghans
The chronology of the war is enlightening, and when compared to the chronology of the US military aid to the Afghans, a pattern begins to emerge. A brief version follows, and a full version can be read at the bottom of this page.
A growing rebellion against the communist government of Afghanistan was receiving small amounts of aid from a number of sources. The CIA was authorized by the Carter administration to aid the rebels
Seeing that the communist Afghan government would be in danger of being overthrown when the rebels resumed major activities in the spring, the Soviets invaded. Their military advisors already working with the Afghan army, and a few trusted Afghan officers, disabled heavy weapons like tanks, and restricted the troops' access to small arms in the lead-up to the attack, limiting the numbers that could be turned against them or taken with deserting soldiers. The invasion took place on Christmas eve; the Soviets obviously having learned the same publicity tricks as the Washington crowd.
1980 - 1981
There was potential for a successful massive uprising since the Afghan people saw the invasion as cause for "holy war", had there been adequate numbers of basic, effective weapons available to them. Many spontaneous uprisings took place in early 1980, but the poorly armed and militarily unknowledgeable Afghans usually got themselves killed while achieving nothing of strategic or even tactical value. Military aid only trickled in to the resistance, giving the Afghans just enough marginally useful weapons to encourage the most courageous to continue to carry out dangerous attacks, resulting in them taking heavy casualties. The US aid allocated to the Afghans rose to $10 million. However, that money was being inefficiently spent, such as paying several times the going black market price to Israeli arms dealers for poor quality weapons, with much "leakage" all along the way. The initiative was thus lost, and many anticommunist Afghans fled across the borders to Pakistan and Iran.
1982 - 1983
The Soviets conducted many punitive attacks in areas of strong resistance, causing a large portion of the population to flee as refugees. US allocated aid reached the $50 million a year range. While the Afghans were finally receiving greater numbers of very basic weapons, a large portion of those that might have been more effective against Soviet armor and aircraft were old, in poor condition and defective. This, and heavy casualties, led to low morale among those who were staying inside Afghanistan.
Allocated US aid rose to $122 million, but reports by independent, militarily knowledgeable Western observers inside Afghanistan were that while the mujahideen had small arms, some heavy machine guns, RPG, and mines, there were nowhere near the numbers which the reported amounts of aid should have purchased. Moreover, there was a shocking lack of the most basic military non-weapon equipment, making the Afghans very ineffective in combat while exposing them to great risk.
US aid to the mujahideen was reportedly $250 million. Independent Western observers monitoring the flow of supplies into Afghanistan saw relatively little entering the country. The CIA provided small numbers of several bizarre and inappropriate weapons while still not providing adequate amounts of basic equipment. It was the bloodiest year of the war as the Soviets drew the resistance into a number of major battles, killing many of the best field commanders and demoralizing the mujahideen. The Soviets began focusing their air attacks more on the supply routes and major resistance bases. Meanwhile when Michail Gorbachev became Soviet General Secretary in March 1985, he demanded that a way be found within a year for the Soviets to begin disengaging from the war. This means that the Soviets began planning their withdrawal early in 1985 when the amount of aid the US had to the mujahideen had been only about $240 million dollars , and they had their withdrawal planned by the next spring, at which time the Afghans had been given 1985's additional $250 million.
Early in the year the Afghans began noticing a steep decline in Soviet air attacks in most areas of the country. In the middle of the year the Soviets began indicating a serious intention to withdraw from Afghanistan, and made token troop recalls to the USSR. Some better weapons were given to the mujahideen, but usually in a manner which made their use inefficient (e.g. surface to surface rockets without launchers appropriate for the circumstances). After much front page publicity in newspapers around the world, the CIA finally delivered Stinger missiles to the Afghans late in the year when most of the year's fighting was over and activity in the field would soon be curtailed by the onset of winter.
Soviet air attacks across most of Afghanistan continued to decline, but only at a rate equal to or less than that before the Stingers arrived. The Soviets began to take efforts to limit losses, while the mujahideeen, anticipating the Soviet withdrawal, began stockpiling weapons and ammunition.
US aid allocated was in the $600 million range. In April an explosion at the Pakistani munitions depot destroyed the weapons stored there for distribution to the Afghans, and significant additional supplies did not reach the Afghans until December. Meanwhile, the Soviets carried out the major part of their withdrawal amidst only relatively light resistance activity. Pakistan's president, the head of Pakistani Intelligence, and several high ranking officers were assassinated in a sabotaged airplane.
The Soviets completed their withdrawal in February with virtually no resistance attacks in the last months and only some very minor harassment activities directed against the final departing troops. All remaining weapons in the hands of the resistance, and all subsequent military aid, would thus be used by Afghans against other Afghans. Pressured by the US to establish an alternative capital in Afghanistan, the mujahideen launch an attack to take Jalalabad rather than first eroding the military capabilities of the communist DRA forces. This led to a long and bloody stalemate.
Thus, in the first five years of the Soviet occupation combined, when the Soviets suffered some of their greatest losses, the mujahideen had received less aid from the US, than they received in each of the years when the Soviets were already withdrawing, and suffered relative small losses. Therefore, the largest portion of the weapons received by the mujahideen were provided after they could not be useful against the Soviets, and it was known to those in the CIA and the US congress, that they would be used to kill other Afghans.
A couple of other ways of looking at the aid Charlie Wilson obtained for the Afghans
If we add up all the US aid allocated to the Afghan mujahideen during the nine years that the Soviets were actually in Afghanistan, it comes to about $2 billion, with the value of what really reached the Afghans being only a fraction of that. But even if they had actually received a total of $3 billion or $4 billion, as is sometimes claimed, that is only as much as the US gives Israel in aid each year. If rag-tag, sandal-shod guerrillas really were able to defeat the military might of the Soviet Union with that aid, why do the Israelis, who are portrayed as military supermen, facing much inferior Arab armies, need to get that much aid each year even when not actively fighting? (The aid to Israel is technically not all for military use, but it is fungible, and the non-military aid allows the Israelis to divert an equivalent additional portion of their GNP to the military.)
Currently, according to the official US version of what is taking place in Afghanistan, the majority of the Afghans support the US-installed government. Yet, the Afghans, even with NATO forces doing most of the serious fighting, are unable to defeat what is claimed to be a maximum of a few thousand Taliban. By 2007 the US was providing approximately $3 billion per year in military/security aid to the government in Kabul. How is it that the major portion of the Afghans who supposedly defeated the Soviet Army with a total of somewhere around $3 billion in aid, are unable to defeat the lesser portion of their previous forces when receiving $3 billion in aid to their military, plus direct outside military help totaling tens of billions of dollars, each year?
It can be seen that the aid given to the Afghans when they were fighting the Soviets was almost nothing in comparison to other US military aid programs to those facing much less formidable enemies; even the aid to the Afghans who are willing to go along with the current neocon agenda. The US taxpayers are obviously getting robbed blind in these military aid farces. However, it also raises questions about what they are getting for the enormous sums they pay for the US military. Despite all their high-tech toys, the heavy on brawn, light on brains, types who dominate the US military are generally doing worse than the unwilling 19 year old Soviet conscripts who were fighting the Afghans in the 1980s for wages that were, at a realistic exchange rate, about $5 a month. The outside fighters helping the Taliban certainly are not providing major strategic or tactical guidance; if they were, it would only further refute the claim that such individuals need to go to Afghanistan for "training". Rather than funding US military forces providing help to the Afghans of the current government in Kabul, perhaps the US taxpayers should look into contracting the defense needs of the US to the effective portion of the Afghans from the anti-Soviet resistance and those who were providing them with effective help.
Was Charlie Wilson really a suave ladies' man, or a crude, obnoxious boor whom women with IQs larger than their chest measurements did everything possible to avoid unless they were agents on assignment for Mossad?
Even by Washington "drunk with power as well as booze" standards, Charles Wilson stood out for being crude and obnoxious. Not surprisingly, the women who were involved with him were generally not even of the social climbing sort usually found consorting with government officials, who usually aspire to achieve at least some minimal level of respectability, but rather, "party girl" types who overlap largely with the huge legion of "escorts" who make their livings in the nation's capital. (The number of "escorts" -- i.e. discreet prostitutes -- per-capita in Washington, DC, is generally estimated to be higher than anywhere else in the USA. In relation to the "DC Madam" case in 2006, it was said by ABC News' Brian Ross, that the women who worked for that escort service "include university professors, legal secretaries, scientists, military officers.", indicating that they weren't good enough at sex to give up their day jobs -- but then, the clients in DC generally aren't very sexually sophisticated or discriminating.) Wilson's insincerity in politics was exceeded only by his insincerity with women. Even most of the naive type women who abound in Washington could easily see through him. That explains why he needed to surround himself with young women who could most charitably be described as "intellectually challenged".
The few brighter women who took an interest in Wilson were those who were doing so as part of their jobs for the Israeli government and its intelligence agencies. Even from Crile's book, it is obvious that the Israelis played upon Wilson's ego by having female operatives of an intellectual caliber far higher than would normally have tolerated Wilson for 5 minutes, pretend to be awed by him, and thus put themselves in positions to further manipulate him.
Wilson was known for having "pet names" for his female consorts. This was reportedly due to the fact that when drinking (as he was most of his waking hours), he would often mix up the names of previous and current female companions. The story is that once a rather jealous and feisty woman who tended to get more so after a few drinks, got enraged at a very drunk Wilson when he called her by the wrong name, and that she inflicted considerable physical injury while he was too drunkenly uncoordinated to put up an effective defense. Subsequently, he took to using the pet names, and while generally using one in particular for a particular woman, he made sure not to use only one name with her. Thus, he might call her a pet name such as "Sugarplum", but would also call her things like "Sweetie" and "Princess", so that if in a drunken fog he referred to her by the pet name of a former consort whom he might have called something like "Sweetpea", it could pass as just another affectionate term. Whereas, a real name like Kathy being applied by his booze befuddled brain to a woman whose name was actually something else, like Donna, would get him in trouble as soon as it came out of his mouth.
Some idea of the way that most women viewed him, and how much they detested even being around him, can be judged by the actions of the wife of the chief US foreign service officer at the US consulate in Peshawar in the mid-1980s. Wives of foreign service officers were expected to be especially gracious and diplomatic hostesses (a tradition from the time when the vast majority of foreign service officers were men), even in the most trying of circumstances. Although the consul himself, Alan Eastham, has been described as somewhat of a fool (and in a later, higher, State Department position in the region, was among those who were officially courting the Taliban into the late 1990s), even those most critical of him who also met his wife Carolyn, found her very likeable and a gracious hostess. However, in an initial encounter with Charles Wilson on one of his visits to Peshwar, she found him so obnoxious and disgusting that she subsequently would arrange to be elsewhere when Wilson would visit the city. One such occasion in 1986 when her absence was conspicuous, was during the visit in which Wilson, despite the supposed esteemed position it is claimed he had among the highest government officials in Pakistan, and all the supposed "covert ops" abilities attributed to him and his CIA companions, was prevented from traveling through the tribal territories to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border by a couple of relatively low level Pakistani policemen. Returning to Eastham's residence at the consulate in Peshawar, the frustrated Wilson holed-up on the upper floor and went on a bender that continued through much of the reception being given in his honor the next day. When he finally staggered downstairs to make an appearance, even those who disliked him have said that they were impressed by someone that tall and that drunk being able to remain vertical despite repeated tottering close calls.
Joanne Herring and Charles Fawcett; catalysts or tools?
Joanne Johnson was from a relatively affluent family with good social connections. Her approach to history, the world, and international politics seems to be more emotional than knowledge based. She is a born again Christian and was a member of the Minutewomen, the female branch of the Minutemen, a militant anticommunist group of the 1960s and 1970s (not the current group involved with the illegal immigration issue). The Minutemen, like the John Birchers, while very vocally opposing "communism", avoided the elephant in the room issue of the disproportionately large Jewish element in the communist movements both in Europe and in the US. This was because they had been, from the beginning, manipulated by the Trotskyists to both attack the latter's Stalinist enemies, and keep those with anticommunist attitudes but poor understanding of history who joined them, from seeing the bigger picture. Her marriages, first to real estate developer Robert King, then to Bob Herring, and finally to Lloyd Davis, brought her into contact with the rich elite who were funding the neocons in return for financially beneficial legislation and foreign policy. Thus, it is fairly certain that Joanne Herring's political attitudes were shaped by those who we now associate with the term neocon, and who had their ideological roots in Trotskyism, rather than by any true understanding of, and opposition to, totalitarian government by terror, of which Soviet communism was only one face. Through her former husband's business connections she had contact with Pakistan and a few other Islamic countries, and with individuals in Texas and elsewhere in the US whose money helped buy Charles Wilson's seat in Congress. That made her a perfect candidate for manipulation by the early neocons who wished to gain control over the situation in Afghanistan.
As discussed elsewhere on this page, most of what Crile claimed about her in his book was pure nonsense. Beyond that, it must also be understood that the Pakistanis tend to be over-flattering in their behavior to guests, to the point that the non-egotistical find it condescending and insulting; resembling the way an adult may make a show of supposedly being greatly impressed by, and best friends with, a small child. It is all the more so for those who really know the Pakistani character and how they reveal their often very harshly critical true feelings in private.
The reality is that as someone who was familiar to the Pakistanis, Herring served as a good "stalking horse" for the neocons because the Pakistanis knew her. They knew that she was simplistic in her thinking and world view, and thus was assumed to not likely to pose a threat to them. (It must be remembered that as the only Islamic country with nuclear weapons capabilities, it was constantly a target for Israeli espionage and sabotage.) Making it appear that the military aid program was being pushed along by an eccentric anti-communist socialite, provided a screen for the neocons and Israelis who were setting the agenda and manipulating the arms supplies.
However, it is impossible to understand Herring's involvement without understanding Charles Fawcett's. One of the stranger characters to have had a part in these events (some say, one of the stranger characters anytime, anywhere), Fawcett was what could be described as "gadabout" in Hollywood, East Coast, and European social circles. In his late teens in the 1930s, he left the US and went to Europe where he reportedly earned his living as an "artist's model" (i.e. nude model for figure drawing/painting) and as a "wrestler". It is difficult to sort out fantasy from fact in his biographic information. He was supposedly in Eastern Europe and claimed to have joined the Polish Army when the Germans invaded, but deserted after a week (which, curiously, would have been just when the Soviets started their invasion of the eastern half of Poland where the Polish Army had regrouped) and claimed to have hitchhiked to Paris (across Germany?). There he came into contact with an effeminate Armenian-American, Varian Fry, who was helping people avoid border controls in traveling out of France to Spain and beyond. When Fawcett asked to work with him, Fry was apparently so unimpressed with Fawcett intellectually, that he reluctantly took him into the operation only because it was thought that his physical size and fitness might make him useful as "muscle" if they ran into trouble. Some of their clients became celebrities in Europe and the US in the postwar era. Fawcett thus later obtained entré to their social circles. Although Fawcett spent much of WW II in tuberculosis treatment sanatoriums in Canada and the US, he is said to have joined the American ambulance corps and then gone to Italy in 1944. He claimed to have subsequently fought with the French Foreign Legion in Alsace, though his status seems as if it could have only been that of a camp follower, because in 1940 he been rejected when he applied to join the French military. Part of his legend is that he "rescued" a series of six Jewish women from concentration camps by engaging in paper marriages. Those marriages, however, were after the war, and created to obtain US visas for women who were being kept in the (liberated) camps by the Allies because they were displaced persons who did not want to return to their home countries and were having trouble finding any other countries that would accept them. It seems that Fawcett took part in these repeated major violations of US laws for financial profit. (Crile's version of Herring first telling Wilson about Fawcett, claimed, "There have been eighteen books written about him...he married eleven Jewish girls to get them out of Nazi Germany..." The Library of Congress catalog, however, shows zero books about him, and similarly none that list him even as a secondary subject. But then, given that Charlie Wilson doesn't seem to have ever read much, even when he was in the Naval Academy, that was the sort of thing that could have easily been slipped past him.) An early connection to the events and players of the 1980s is that in 1948 Fawcett apparently went to Greece where he had some involvement in the civil war while in the guise of a journalist. Later in the postwar period he worked playing bit parts in B movies in Europe, particularly Italy, expanding his social circle to include European and American actors and actresses.
In ill health and financially broke in the 1970s, he ended up in Houston, where a wealthy Italian friend gave him a job overseeing the building of a swimming pool complex for his mansion -- essentially as a glorified pool boy -- giving Fawcett a chance to socialize with Joan Herring, who he no doubt impressed with his tales of having fought communists in Greece, and also with her then husband and the other natural gas and oil men who were in league with the neocons on long range policies in the hydrocarbon-rich areas of the world. Some in these last groups were probably behind Fawcett going to Pakistan after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. (Interestingly, Fawcett's obituary in a British newspaper included the following line. "In June 1979, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, he announced that he was leaving for that country to pass on to the Afghan freedom fighters tactics he had learned in the Foreign Legion." It would be easy to dismiss this offhand as a journalistic error, were it not for the recent admissions that the Carter administration had instructed the CIA to aid the anticommunist rebels in Afghanistan in mid-1979 -- six months before the Soviets invaded in DECEMBER, 1979.)
It was classic Fawcett that although he is often represented as a professional "filmmaker", he had to send a note (according to most accounts, written in crayon) to Herring asking her to obtain and bring film making equipment when he observed the situation on the border of Pakistan in the early days of the war, and that it was Herring's eighteen year old son who was actually the cameraman on the film they made . Typical of the discrepancies between many of claims about Fawcett's activities and the verifiable facts, is that some of his bio information claims he was "cofounder" of a particular humanitarian aid organization that worked in Pakistan and Afghanistan during the war. Those who were actually involved with that organization from very soon after it was formed, said that while Fawcett may have, like several other individuals who had no role in the organization, been listed as honorary board member at some point, not only was he not one of those who founded it, but that he was not directly involved with it in any capacity. In one individual's almost three years of fulltime work with the organization, he recalls Fawcett being mentioned only once, and then only as a "filmmaker".
So, Herring and Fawcett seem to have been far less catalysts for what was to take place, than they were convenient flamboyant, egotistical personalities who were obviously innocuous in themselves. That made them perfect to distract attention from, and screen, those operating in the background in Washington. With Herring appearing to have been the initiating force, and it looking as if Wilson and Avrakotos were acting on their own, the Israelis calling the shots managed to remain largely hidden.
If the fantasy woven by Crile was to be accepted, it would be a damning condemnation of the CIA, the US Congress, the State department, and the Reagan administration, that a socialite with a sophomoric view of geopolitics, and a painfully simplistic view of "communists", put into motion what they couldn't or wouldn't. However, it makes little difference whether it was Joanne Herring, or neocons in Washington and their Israeli partners who were behind what really took place. It illustrates how the US government is out of control and broken beyond repair, when dangerous foreign policy actions can being initiated and pushed ahead by a few congressmen in key positions who are controlled by foreign and financial interests, and can be carried out by those case officers in the intelligence agencies who feel the need to compensate for feelings of inadequacy, and are thus especially vulnerable to further manipulation by those moles in the agencies working for foreign interests.
Avrakotos: Maverick or manipulable malcontent?
Crile made Gust Avrakotos out to be a shrewd, scrappy, get-the-job-done, sort of guy who was looked down upon and discriminated against by the more establishment types at the CIA because he was of Pennsylvania Greek-American background rather than from East Coast, Ivy League background. It was further indicated that until about the time Avrakotos and some others like him were hired by the CIA, only the more elite types were allowed in. In fact though, the CIA, like its predecessor, the OSS (and the Communist Party), always had a disproportionately large percentage of Jews working for it (There are some estimates that say that over half of those who worked for the OSS during WW II were of at least partially Jewish ancestry. Those estimates may be high overall for the organization, but there were some branches of it for which it was true, and US government documents that show the OSS was using Jewish organizations in New York to not only recruit, but also to pre-screen, applicants for some branches such as the "Office of Foreign Experts".) Greek-Americans were also continually present in both the OSS and CIA. On of the most prominent was Thomas Karammessines. After having been in the OSS during WW II, he began working for the CIA in 1948 shortly after its formation. There he worked under Frank Wisner. Although specific information on Wisner's ethnic background is elusive, he came from Laural, Mississippi, where there is a hundred year old synagogue - not something one finds in many Mississippi towns. And, given that there has been a president of the Council of US Jewish Federations by the name of Maynard Wisner, it is a reasonable assumption that Frank Wisner was of Jewish origins. In 1948 he was in charge of the CIA's Operation Mockingbird to influence the US media. In April, 1953, Wisner persuaded Allen Dulles to approve $1 million (when a million dollars was still a significant sum) to bring down the ruler of Iran, Mossadegh, in "Operation Ajah". He paid Iranian CIA operatives to pretend to be socialists and threaten severe punishment of any of the clergy who did not support Mossadegh, thereby causing religious Iranians who were otherwise not especially opposed to him, to turn against Mossadegh. That set into motion the events that ultimately resulted in the Islamic Revolution in Iran. (Further insight on the type of people at such levels of the CIA can be obtained from Wisner's subsequent career there. In 1956 he had a "mental breakdown" and was diagnosed as bipolar. The CIA sent him to a mental hospital for electro shock treatment which was "not successful", and Wisner was still suffering from severe depression when released in 1958. Considered too ill to resume his job as head of counter-espionage, he was sent by Dulles to London to be CIA chief in England. He was finally recalled to Washington in 1962, and committed suicide in 1965.) Karamessines, meanwhile, had worked under Wisner's direction, being assigned to Greece until 1953, then as Chief of Station in Rome in the very early 1960s (this overlaps nicely with Charles Fawcett's reported whereabouts during those two periods).
Another Greek-American CIA operative was George Joannides, who it is generally acknowledged was a protegee of Tom Karamessines. Joannides was from New York, and joined the CIA in 1951, working in the clandestine services using the cover of being a DOD lawyer, and presumably working with Karamessines in Greece in his early years. The names of Karamessines and Joannides are familiar to those who have done research on President John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas in 1963. By then, Joannides was back in the US, and working with anti-Castro Cubans. At the very least, he and Karamessines were involved in a CIA effort to fabricate links between Castro and the assassination, and to cover up some CIA activities of the period. Karamessines resigned from the CIA in 1973 in protest over the firing of Richard Helms. The House Select Committee on Assassination called him to testify before them in Washington in 1978, but before that could take place, the 61 year old Karamessines died while at a summer home in Grand lakes, Quebec, reportedly of a "heart attack". Joannides was also called to testify before the Committeee, but those who are familiar with the assassination investigation generally describe his testimony as "stonewalling". As late as 2007, new information emerged concerning Joannides' activities in 1963 and the CIA's withholding of information about them. Joannides died in 1990. Though from New York, and having worked mainly in Washington when not overseas, he died in Houston, Texas, which would indicate he had some strong prior connections to that city and people there.
With Gust Avrakotos' having been assigned to Greece in the 1960s, it is certain that he would have been in close contact with Karamessines and Joannides in the CIA even though the latter two were then in much higher positions not specifically concerned with the situation in Greece, and it seems likely that Avrakotos would have been somewhat of a protegee of Joannides. However, given his behavior, Avrakotos would not have lasted as long as he did in the CIA unless he had some additional powerful people there shielding him, and that would have put him in a position to be manipulated by them. The most likely ones to have done so were those in the CIA who owe their first allegiance to Israel but are able to pass as being the more typical neocons who have merely been taken in by the fiction that the interests of Israel and the US are linked. (Similarly, among the CIA case officers working with the Afghanistan situation under Avrakotos was Michael Vickers, who has since moved on to the Pentagon and is now one of the necons' primary tools there.) When Avrakotos left the CIA in 1989, he went to Rome to work for TRW. He, however, was hired back as a contract employee by the CIA in the late 1990s.
In contrast to the way he is portrayed in Crile's book, and in the subsequent movie, Avrakotos seems to have made little impression, and certainly not a positive one, on the Pakistani government officials. Although Brigadier Mohammad Yousaf discusses his owand his superiors' dealings with the CIA, there is no mention of Avrakotos by namen or even indirectly in any of the capacities in which he is depicted functioning in Crile's fantasy tale that greatly exaggerated his role. Those on the ground helping the Afghans recall Avrakotos having been there for a few very brief visits, and appearing largely bewildered by the situation and surroundings. This indicates that Avrakotos main activity was working with (i.e. getting taken advantage of by) the Israelis in the arms deals. The way that he was shunted aside, despite having run the "largest covert operation in CIA history", makes it obvious that when he was no longer of use to them, his manipulators in the CIA ceased keeping the way open for him, and let the bureaucratic forces prevail against him.
Did Charlie do it? The assassination of President Zia ul-Haq
The one person who knew the truth about the events around which the Charlie Wilson myth is built was President Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan. As has been shown, claims made in Crile's book, and the subsequent movie, about President Zia's words and actions, were not just false, but often total nonsense. The assassination of Zia and many of Pakistan's high ranking military officials made it easy for all sorts of fictions to be woven around him after the fact. However, a realistic picture of his thoughts and actions can be pieced together from open sources, the reports of those who were working with the Afghans in Pakistan, and inferences made from the events themselves.
Although President Zia was far from being a saint, he cared deeply about his country and his people. The international press often portrayed him negatively, yet had to, however begrudgingly, concede that he was bringing about many improvements in Pakistan. Once Zia began reversing the disastrous policies of Ali Bhutto, in the years 1977 through 1986 Pakistan experienced an average yearly growth in GNP of over 6% -- the highest in the world during that time period -- attesting to his competence as a leader. Although legitimate dissent and political opposition were sometimes suppressed, there were relatively few of the sorts of serious abuses usually associated with martial law regimes, and suppressions of the opposition was generally out in the open, with at least some justification given, instead of being carried out lethally in the shadows as it had been under Ali Bhutto. The assessment of pragmatic, politically knowledgeable observers who were in Pakistan during his time in office, is that Zia was a sincere and moral person -- far more so than most national leaders in the Third World, and even more so than many of the leaders in Europe and North America. That, unfortunately, was almost certainly what got him killed.
If there was one absolutely critical character in the Afghan resistance against the Soviets, it was President Zia. It was he who allowed millions of refugees to vote with their feet against the Soviet occupation of their country by seeking safety in Pakistan while the war took place. Although refugees and the flow of international aid to them turned into an income producing "industry" for Pakistan, there is little doubt that as Muslims, many of whom themselves had at one time or another been refugees as a result of the partition of India and subsequent wars, the Pakistanis under Zia would, in the largest part, been willing to help their Afghan neighbors, who were co-religionists, and in many cases kin, even in the absence of outside aid. It was Zia who gave the Afghan resistance fighters safe haven in Pakistan, and what military help he could, years before there was any large amount of US aid going to them. And it was Zia who took the risk of getting caught between the two super powers by allowing US aid to the Afghans to come through Pakistan, overruling the objections of some of his cabinet members. It wasn't totally one sided though. Zia used the situation to build up Pakistan's military, being allowed to obtain advanced aircraft and other weapons from the US in return for Pakistans cooperation and help. Ironically, it would be that acquisition program that would be used to lure Zia to his death.
It is often the case with people who have a sense of morality and humanity, that they want to believe that others think and act in similar ways. Thus with Zia viewing the Afghan resistance to the Soviets as something that was his duty as a righteous person to support whatever the cost, with any benefits that came to Pakistan from it being a sort of karmic repayment, he would have assumed that those from the US who said they wanted to help the Afghans were sincere. He was worldly enough to understand that such people probably expected to profit personally and advance their own national interests, but he would have assumed that they really did intend to help the Afghans rather than do things to their detriment, and to the detriment of their own country, in furtherance of hidden agendas and unbridled profiteering. As previously discussed, Charlie Wilson's usual tactic was to promise people what they wanted, claim he had fought to get it for them, and put the blame for things promised not materializing onto others. This apparently worked for a while with Zia. He saw some aid getting to the Afghans, with his own military people involved with the Afghans so absorbed in playing at the tactical aspects of guerrilla warfare and envisioning themselves as constructing a strategy that would somehow defeat the Soviets, that they were underplaying the lack of effectiveness despite the increasing volume. Meanwhile, Pakistan was being allowed to purchase much of the weaponry that it had asked for, making him believe that the Americans were good to their word, and that any problems with the aid to the Afghans were due to US political inertia and bureaucratic glitches.
Zia, however, was not stupid, and by 1986 he was obviously aware that there was a hidden agenda, and that the supposed "problems" were all part of the plan that would, by resulting in the deaths of the best of the Afghans, leave them militarily weak and politically divided. When he realized that the US and the Soviets were going to decide the fate of Afghanistan without any meaningful involvement of either the Afghan resistance or the Pakistanis, he began to look for ways to avert the sellout. In the typical Pakistani style though, he presented a cooperative attitude in public, while behind the scenes looking for ways to derail the superpowers' plans. In this period, those who had contact with upper level Pakistanis say there was a marked increase in the number and openness of comments about Israeli influence over US policy. Although Zia was careful with his own words in official situations, it is relatively certain that the attitude being expressed by others reflected what he expressed in private. Even his famous "60 Minutes" interview (often erroneously referred to as having taken place in early 1989 when it aired and the Soviets were departing Afghanistan, when in fact Zia had been dead for over half a year at the time), despite the clever and misleading editing that program is famous for and in which they had total liberty with the interviewee being dead, shows he was choosing his words carefully, and never actually saying or even confirming most of what was presented as coming from him. Rather, most of what he said was very ambiguous with the questions and comments likely similarly edited and shuffled, if not inserted after the fact. Indeed, "between the lines" an entirely different message could be read. The answer which became the tag line for the story of Charlie Wilson, "Charlie did it.", was in response to the question about the Afghans supposedly having "defeated" the Soviets. Zia knew better than anyone that the Soviets hadn't been defeated, but rather that the Afghans had been cynically betrayed in negotiations between the US and USSR in which their wishes, and those of their Pakistani neighbors, had been ignored. It was the unacceptable outcome for which Wilson was being credited/blamed.
Exactly how and when Zia confronted the US over the sellout is not known, for reasons that will soon become clear. However, one of the more knowledgeable analysts has said it is most likely that Zia let it be known, directly or through intermediaries, in early 1988 that he would not only publicly expose the sellout, but would also present a retrospective reconstruction of the treachery that he realized had taken place all through the war, if the US-USSR deal went ahead as planned. (An alternative possibility is that he never intended to have an open confrontation, but that he and a couple of trusted military colleagues were working with some of the Afghans to circumvent the US plan for a bloody chaotic, unstable post-Soviet withdrawal Afghanistan, and spies within the Pakistani government or the Afghan resistance groups learned of, and reported on, that to whoever they were working for.)
There is some dispute over the exact details of Zia's assassination in August, 1988. What is definitely known is that he was pressured to attend a demonstration of a US M-1 Abrams tank -- such tanks being offered for sale to Pakistan at the time -- even though he normally would not have involved himself with such an event. The pressure came from the Pakistani ambassador in Washington who had been lobbied by Pentagon officials, the manufacturer, and US politicians, most of who would have themselves been pushed to do so by others, giving much cover to whoever was ultimately behind it. (Good investigators with subpoena power would likely have been able to trace the origin of the effort, but, as will be seen, such an investigation was purposely, and illegally, neglected.) It was presented as being diplomatically desirable for him to attend, and perhaps knowing that he would need all the non-neocon friends in the US that he could get, if he was going to thwart the neocon agenda, Zia agreed to watch the demonstration. General Akhtar, then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had formerly been the the head of the Pakistani intelligence service which had handled the aid to the Afghans, also decided to attend, apparently because he was led to believe Zia's attendance portended some significant announcement about the military. The exact origin of that idea or rumor is uncertain, and it is puzzling that he would have put himself in position for a possibly embarrassing surprise in public rather than just asking Zia about the matter beforehand. Both obviously felt that their normal security measures were adequate for them to make the journey.
As usual, Zia had most of the highest ranking Pakistani military officers travel with him as insurance that none of them would get involved in assassination/coup plots, and so they would closely oversee the extensive security measures put in place for such trips. There were some minor irregularities in the outgoing trip, but nothing extraordinary. The site of the tank demonstration, however, had a landing strip that was only large enough to accommodate one C-130 transport. So, the second one which always accompanied as a back-up had to land 150 kilometers away, and that precluded any chance of Zia and his companions switching planes for the flight back. The US military attache's plane in which he and the US ambassador had traveled, had to land about 50 kilometers away.
Such demonstrations of expensive military hardware normally are preceded by much on-site testing and tweeking to guarantee performance far better than can ever be expected out in real world combat conditions. If anything, demonstrations will be delayed until it is certain that the best showing possible will be made. However, in this instance the M1 tank performed very poorly in its firing demonstration. The Pakistani military is heavily oriented to artillery, and it would have been known that the performance of the tank's aiming (fire control) system was the most important aspect to them. The logical conclusion is that the demonstration was conducted despite it being known that there were problems still not worked out with the tank and test circumstances that would cause the Pakistanis to reject it, rather than being postponed as would have been the usual procedure. Who wanted the test to go forward despite the problems is another question that a serious investigation could have answered. Meanwhile, US military attache, Brigadier Wassom, sent his plane off for other use, again under circumstances that have never been adequately investigated or explained, and he and the US ambassador, Raphael, accepted a ride back to Islamabad on Zia's plane. Although some, such as Palistan's Brigadier Yousaf have assumed that the presence of the two US officials was accidental, events after the assassination make that unlikely.
According to witnesses on the ground, shortly after taking off to return to Islamabad, Zia's plane began flying erratically, first climbing, then going into a steep dive, seeming to regain control, and then diving into the ground. This seems to indicate that no one was in control of the plane, and that automatic emergency compensating mechanisms were operating, which would mean that something had happened to the crew, and perhaps the others on the plane, but that the plane itself was functional. Extensive investigation and laboratory tests conducted on the aircraft wreckage are said to have ruled out mechanical failure, missile attack, or onboard explosion, though, as has been seen in other crash and accident investigations, such findings can not be taken as absolutely conclusive. With no obvious physical cause, the main possibility shifts to something having happened that affected the crew and perhaps also the passengers. What that might have been, will never be known. The bodies were brought to the military hospital at Bahawalpur, but only Brigadier Wassom's body had been examined (and that only to the extent of determining he had not been injured by an explosive blast, or suffered lung damage of the sort that would have resulted from a fire, prior to his death in the impact) before it was ordered that autopsies not be performed. Subsequently, family members were told lies, such as that all the passengers had been burned beyond the point where anything could be learned from autopsies. US officials would tell the US public that autopsies weren't possible due to Muslim custom requiring bodies be buried within 24 hours -- something that did not apply in the Pakistani military, and supported by the fact that the military hospital staff had been preparing to do autopsies and were shocked when they were ordered not to do so. The plot thickens when, as it was required to do by 1986 legislation requiring it to investigate terrorist acts on US citizens, the FBI requested permission to send a team to Pakistan. They were initially given the go-ahead by the US State Department, but then a few hours later permission was withdrawn. This was most likely the doing of Robert Oakley who had immediately been appointed ambassador to replace the deceased Raphael. (There are many similarities in this case with the handling of the investigation of the crash of the plane carrying Bill Clinton's Commerce Secretary, Ron Brown, and 34 other people, in Croatia in 1996, when Brown had become a political liability due to being under investigation for corruption. There were conflicting stories about whether there were survivors still alive when rescuers arrived at the scene, that have never been resolved. X-rays taken in initial examinations of the bodies, including those that knowledgeable doctors interpreted as showing a bullet wound to Brown's head inside of which there was what was described as a "snowstorm" of lead fragments, were destroyed. Bill Clinton, to whom Brown had become a political liability due to corruption charges, prevented any serious investigation from being conducted.)
Oakely repeatedly served variously as an advance man, and a clean-up man, in a number of the places where the neocon policies have created the chaos that they have used to advance their agenda. Perhaps only coincidentally, his first foreign service post in 1957 was Sudan, where the post-independence civilian government was soon overthrown by a military coup, with the country subsequently having been in various degrees of civil war most of the time since. In more recent decades, despite having been in positions where he was ostensibly working to combat terrorism during much of that time, he seems to have been in several of the most critical countries and areas of the world just before they turned into centers for terrorist activities directed against the US. He was appointed ambassador to Somalia in 1982. In 1984 he was appointed Director of the State Department Office of Combating Terrorism. In January 1987 he became Assistant to the President for Middle East and South Asia, as a member of the National Security Council. He was immediately appointed ambassador to Pakistan after Raphael died along with Zia. In late 1992 he was appointed Special Envoy for Somalia by George H. Bush, until spring of 1993, and then appointed to the same position again by Bill Clinton in October of 1993.
It seems obvious that Oakley was sent to Pakistan to handle the post-assassination cover-up. The strongest evidence of this was that in the aftermath of the plane crash, he, as a member of the National Security Council, did not call for an immediate FBI investigation, and then, as ambassador, would not give permission for such an investigation when the FBI requested to carry out their duty to do so. In a later (rather cursory, and ultimately meaningless) congressional sub-committee hearing, when questioned about that matter, he claimed that he had "forgotten" about the law requiring such an investigation; totally implausible given that as Director of the State Department Office of Combating Terrorism, he had been one of those pressing for the legislation and had personally lobbied for it. (When congressional pressure finally got him to allow an FBI investigation in Pakistan ten months after the fact, after Benazir Bhutto had been in office for several months, the FBI agents that were sent had apparently been instructed not to conduct a serious investigation, and so did not challenge the official versions of the events, and did not even go to the various airfields or the crash site. Given that such agents would have been totally unfamiliar with the culture, customs, people, and languages and would have not been willing to seek out and use the help of non- government employee Americans/Westerners who understood, and could inconspicuously move about among, the Pakistanis, it is unlikely that they could have uncovered much useful on that end. They could have done much more by investigating who in the US was behind the effort to get Zia and Akhtar to make a trip they normally would not have, but clearly there was no desire to find out that information.)
The lack of serious investigation beyond the unsuccessful, but inconclusive, search for mechanical or explosive/ballistic causes, means that it has never been determined exactly what took place. Although that might seem to leave the possibility open that it was something accidental, the subsequent behavior of the US government in not only refusing to look for answers, but also in lying about such things as the condition of the bodies, the motivation for cremation without autopsies, and the reasons for legally required investigation not being carried out immediately, would not have been necessary unless they definitely knew that it had been an assassination. The theory of what caused the crash favored by some high ranking Pakistanis and others, is that a canister of incapacitating or lethal gas was put in place of some other pressurized cylinder in the cockpit area of the plane, with a timer delay that would have only armed the device after the plane had completed the outbound leg of the flight. An altimeter trigger would have then released the gas after takeoff on the return leg. However, an analyst who is the world's top expert on the practical limitations to the use of gaseous weapons and poisons, points out that there are a number of problems with that theory. Despite the belief of some naive writers on the subject, gases that instantaneously paralyze a person are a myth. The dispersal of gas from a specific point would be gradual, with the leading edge of even a quickly released cloud being extremely diluted with air, and thus any effects would not immediately be the full ones. Gases are either lighter or heavier than air, and . A gas expanding as it came out of a compressed state in a canister would initially be cool and would probably sink to the floor and flow down through openings to the space below the cockpit itself. If the release occurred while the plane was climbing, a heavier than air falling effect would have taken the gas to the rear of the cockpit. Air circulation generally moves air rearward on a plane. Regardless of where the gas came from, what its weight, and what the air circulation pattern, if there were three crew members in the cockpit, they would not have been affected evenly, and certainly not instantaneously. Anyone at the controls of an aircraft who felt he was about to be incapacitated, even if just due to sudden dizziness, sleepiness, or a wave of nausea, would need only a second to lock the plane on its heading. If two crew members suddenly showed signs of incapacity, putting on an oxygen mask would have been the most logical reaction of the third as he took control and tried to determine what was happening. If, after radio contact was lost with the plane, it continued onward at altitude, and the passengers had not noticed the trip was taking longer until the plane crashed into the Hindu Kush mountain range north of Islamabad, the gas theory might be plausible. However, those in the cockpit would have also have been in communication with those in the VIP pod and the other personnel in the large plane. At the first sign of trouble, others who were capable of controlling the plane would have been alerted to the problem and gone to investigate. A suicide attack on the crew by someone on the plane, or some other undetected means of killing them, is a much more likely explanation.
Charlie Wilson attended Zia's funeral, but so did the Soviet ambassador to Pakistan, thus nothing can be inferred from that. It leaves open the question of whether Charlie Wilson was responsible for the assassination of Zia. Despite the occasional bit of dark humor about the last words on the (apparently nonexistent) flight recorder, or the last radio transmission, having been Zia shouting "Charlie did it! Charlie did it!" as the plane dived toward the earth, knowledgeable analysts think it unlikely that Wilson had more than a passive role in the assassination. They say that although he was spiteful and vindictive, he was ultimately a coward. And despite his considerable ego and skills in political deceit, he knew that he was not smart enough to play an active role in such serious games without placing himself at great risk. It seems more likely that he could have reported to his handlers any threats Zia may have made about exposing what had been taking place with aid to the Afghans, and then followed their orders to help in getting Zia and Akhtar to attend the tank demonstration. Beyond that, he may have suspected, or even been tacitly made aware, that an assassination was in the works, but he would not likely have had any direct involvement in its planning or execution. Also, Wilson was not at a level where he could have instigated an assassination in which high ranking US officials died, even if they had ended up among the victims accidentally, without his enemies in Washington finding out and at least making an attempt to expose him.
Although there were many people and political entities that wanted Zia dead, the US role in getting the various parties to the tank demonstration and then helping covering up what had happened, limits the suspects. Had the plot had its origins solely in Pakistan, such as with the Bhutto family, the US would not likely have been willing to help arrange it. If the Bhuttos were behind it, they could have intentionally targeted Raphael and Wassom as payback for perceived wrongs to their family by the US, but there would have been no incentive for the US to go to great lengths to protect the guilty in either that case, or even if Raphael and Wassom were just unintentional collateral damage. The Soviets would have had relatively little to gain by Zia's death, and would have actually come out looking considerably better if Zia exposed how the US had sold out the Afghans. If they had acted on their own in killing Zia, and the US had been sincere in aiding the Afghans with Zia's help, then the US should have done everything possible to expose that, or at least gathered the evidence and used the threat of exposure to obtain concessions for the Afghans -- even before considering the deaths of the two high level US officials. However, the only real motivation for the Soviets to have had a hand in the assassination would have been if part of their agreement with the US was to make sure that there was no one who could expose what had actually taken place during the war and in the negotiations for the Soviets' withdrawal. In that case though, it would have been the US that instigated the assassination, with the Soviets just acting as contractors; not totally implausible, but not likely, as they were not willing to risk being exposed and seen as the lackeys of the US It seems unlikely that the US via the CIA was the primary actor in the assassination for several reasons. First, it was successful, which would be highly unusual for such actions attempted by the CIA. Second, the US would have been unlikely to have been willing to entrust Pakistanis to carry out such a major operation that could have had great repercussions had it been uncovered and thwarted. Third, the thoroughness -- taking out all those who would have known the details about what had gone on relative to the Afghanistan situation, as well as a number of Pakistani military officials who were no threat -- would have damaged the CIA's ability to get cooperation in the future when they tried to play off foreign officials against one another. Fourth, no one in the US government would have been willing to make the decision to include a very prominent Jewish-American official such as Raphael among those to be assassinated, unless it was certain that he was going to expose things which would bring down those at some of the highest levels of the US government.
By far the most likely perpetrators of the assassination were the Israelis. They were the major profiteers in the corrupt arms deals, and were behind the neocon architects of the counterproductive aid program. It was their longer term agenda in the region and the Muslim world that was at stake in the US-Soviet deal on Afghanistan being successfully carried through. The Israelis have always had good espionage assets among Shi'a Muslims due in large part to their relationship with the Druze in Palestine and Lebanon, and to the local contacts of the large Jewish community that has traditionally existed in Persia/Iran. Pakistan being a place/culture of blood feuds, the Bhutto family was honor-bound to try to kill Zia for ordering the execution of Ali Bhutto. Seldom mentioned in the US media, is the fact that the Bhutto family in Pakistan are Shi'a, a minority group in that country, which is often in conflict with the more fundamentalist elements of Sunni majority who favored Zia . Thus, not only the extended Bhutto family, but also a significant portion of the Shi'a community at large, would have been easily persuaded or manipulated by Israeli agents to provide them with cover and help. The thoroughness of wiping out virtually the entire upper echelon of the Pakistani military along with Zia, as well as the two American officials who would have known most of the secrets, points to the Israelis. The Israelis, have often been willing to sacrifice Jews, especially those judged not to be more committed to Israel and the Zionist cause than to that of their home countries (e.g. their actions in the WW II, and immediate postwar, periods, of encouraging and even inciting persecutions of Jews in order to try to drive them to join the illegal immigration to Palestine). It is likely that Ambassador Raphael was not willing to totally ignore US interests in favor of Israeli interests, and wasn't considered trustworthy to keep all the dirty secrets of what had taken place relative to Afghanistan. Having a Jewish-American official die along with Zia would have been the perfect "red herring" to throw the simple-minded investigators off the track of the true assassins, as those who haven't studied how the Israelis make war "by way of deception" could not comprehend such cold-blooded treachery. Also, other than those at the highest levels of the US government, only the Israelis, through their far reaching influence in US politics and the US government bureaucracy, could have quashed the serious investigation of the assassinations that was required by US law.
The first necon-job
The neocons had begun to evolve from an almost exclusively Jewish faction of the Trotskyist who saw the potential for gaining political power by co-opting the "conservatives" in the US in the 1970s. This came only after they had determined in the preceding decades that it would be difficult to overcome the well organized competing factions among the "liberals" (some of whom were themselves communist, and thus had the historical perspective to recognize the especially treacherous nature of the Trotskyists), after which they still would have faced the opposition of those on the right. Even their most ardent enemies admit that it was a brilliant strategy; getting the anti-communist political right in the US to do the "heavy lifting" in the fight against the neocons' Stalinist communists rivals who were in control in the USSR. They gained credibility by the fact that the "crazy" faction of the Trotskyists, who were just delusional militant believers in Trotsky's vision of communism, attacked the neocons' actions and agendas. They also largely avoided mention of the facts that they were former Trotskyists, co-religionists of their hero, and connected to the Lukid party in Israel. However, it wasn't until the 1980s during the Reagan administration that they began to gain major influence in Washington. There are some strong parallels to the way the Stalinist communists in the US gained a foothold, then gradually expanded their presence and power, in the Franklin Roosevelt administration in the 1930s, with Roosevelt focusing solely on how they were helping his agendas and rather oblivious to their advancing the goals of USSR at the expense of US interests.
To say that the neocons' origins were exclusively with the former Trotskyists would be an over simplification. However, the Trotskyist backgrounds and underlying ideology of the neocons is well known to the politically knowledgeable, despite often being denied in the large segment of the press and academe that they control. Even congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has publicly discussed the fact. Those who do not know the facts, need only do a web search to find some of the basic connections.
Although their presence and influence in Washington was growing in the early 1980s, the neocons were not yet in a position to direct US policy in major matters, and they were, in fact, still of such low profile that most American "conservatives" dismissed them as just somewhat confused and inconsistent followers of the traditional conservative ideology. It appears to have been their Israeli mentors who saw the potential in the situation in Afghanistan to take the Soviet-made weapons that they had captured from various neighboring Arab countries that had been in poor condition to start with and then improperly stored, and sell them at several times the price for which similar items in better condition could have been obtained on the black market. Those politicians in Washington who took part would get a cut, directly or in the form of campaign contributions, and that money would help ensure their being able to work upward in the system and further advance the Israelis' interests. Given the Israeli/neocon influence in the US media (including the "60 Minutes" television show for which George Crile worked, and which was instrumental in creating the Charlie Wilson myth), it was easy for them to manipulate the news about the war in Afghanistan. In the early part of the "aid" effort, the Israeli arms merchants could not afford to provide more than a minimal amount of very poor quality weapons and still make their desired amount of profit, so the US news media continually claimed that the "Pakistani generals" were skimming weapons. Later, when the aid was increased, allowing the Israelis to take their big cut off the top and still provide some significant (but still a grossly inadequate) quantity of weapons for the Afghans, the US media made it out to seem the Afghans were receiving arms on a scale that could have been used to carry on effective warfare against an occupying superpower. The result was that the neocons, who were not clearly recognized as such yet even by most Americans on the political right, appeared to be doing something the right in the US had failed at in the preceding three decades; causing the USSR to be hurt in a military conflict. Journalists who wanted to sell their stories needed to exaggerate the capabilities and accomplishments of the Afghans, to match what was being told to the American public, sometimes even to the point of faking film/video footage of attacks. Thus, the image of the Afghans being well armed and effective in combat became self-reinforcing. Most of those on the right wanted to be seen as part of the "winning team", so did not question the way the Afghanistan situation was being handled, and did not get alarmed at the involvement of those who seemed very much out of place in opposing communists. The neocons were thus able to get the backing and support of a large portion of the American "right" and at the same time get them to believe that Israel's interests and those of the US were the same. There were probably an astute few on both the left and right in Washington who suspected that there was a hidden agenda, but by the 1980s it had become career suicide in Washington to criticize or even question the motives of anyone who was Jewish or who put the interests of Israel before those of the US. Those on the ground who were actually helping the Afghans were not in a position to closely monitor the internal divisions among American "conservatives" and tended to view all those in Washington as political whores who just catered to different clients. However, they knew that those with connections to Israel, who ostensibly wanted to help the Afghans, had to be up to no good and were obviously responsible for nearly worthless weapons being purchased from the Israelis. As one would later say, "I didn't have the time or resources to sort it all out just then, but I could 'smell' Jews, and went by the old adage 'Where there are Jews, there are Bolsheviks.' So, it made no difference what they were calling themselves, or how convincingly they appeared to have changed their stripes. I knew that they had to have communist connections."
The neocons and their Israeli backers were making gains elsewhere in Washington at the same time. They were also getting bolder (e.g. it was in the 1983-1985 period that Jonathan Pollard was stealing hundreds of cubic feet of documents for the Israelis). By the time the Soviets publicly announced their intention to withdraw from Afghanistan, the neocons had gained substantially greater influence over US policy. It would still be some years before they would be able to seize control of power, but the war in Afghanistan had enabled them to expand from a minority faction of the "conservatives" in the US, to a point where they could mount a takeover of the political right -- there being some interesting parallels with the way the Bolsheviks went from being a minority, to seizing control from the communist movement in pre-Revolution Russia.
Why the CIA shunned its own like Avrakotos, but lionized Wilson
By the early 1980s it was quite obvious to almost everyone that the CIA was incompetent, and to analysts of international affairs who were outside the delusional and in denial Washington mentality, it was also obvious that the CIA was heavily infiltrated by those working for foreign governments/interests who sabotaged any operations that might have succeeded in hurting enemies of the US. The best the CIA and their apologists could do was to try to convince the American public that all of their failures had been exposed to the public while all their supposed successes that had allegedly saved the Republic more times than could be counted had remained secret and would need to stay so forever. The problems in the CIA are too complex to even begin to examine here, but knowledgeable observers say that between the political pressures on the agency, and the strange intellectual processes of those who work there, it would be unrealistic to expect it to be anything but totally dysfunctional.
One of the great ironies was that during the War in Vietnam, the CIA ran covert operations which actually remained largely secret. For example, their largest base of the "Secret War" in Cambodia, at Long Chen, constituted the second largest city in that country at the time; the 50,000 pilots, support personnel and mercenaries at that single base being nearly as many as the total number of resistance fighters in the field at any time in Afghanistan two decades later. Had the full extent of the CIA's incredibly large operations been known to the American public, the US failure in Vietnam, and especially that part conducted by the CIA, would have been recognized as far greater than it was generally perceived at the time. While the CIA's failures in the following decades were generally not on such a spectacular scale, they were so numerous that they were figuratively running out of closet space at their Langley headquarters in which to hide all the skeletons. The one continued area of success for a subset of those in the CIA was, according to many in the US Drug Enforcement Agency, the drug business; an observation supported by the fact that virtually everywhere in the world the CIA had conducted major operations since its creation had become, and in many cases remained, major centers of drug trafficking.
When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the CIA was, as usual, unprepared. They had little real knowledge of the region in general, and much less concerning the tribal cultures and politics of Afghanistan itself. Their assets on the ground were almost nonexistent, and those from whom they received their "firsthand" information, were, as usual, generally the most corrupt and untrustworthy sorts who were, at best, on the fringes of the events taking place. Knowing that they lacked the resources, and that they were no match for Soviet espionage and counter-espionage activities in the region, they did not initially make any serious effort to cause damage to the Soviets. Thus they assigned Avrakotos and a few other officers to go through the motions of aiding the Afghans while trying to gather intelligence on them and the Soviets, to ensure that there were no additional great surprises to embarrass the CIA.
When Charlie Wilson began appropriating money for the CIA "covert" operation in Afghanistan far in excess of what had realistically been expected, and no matter how badly they screwed up, and no matter how poorly the Afghan resistance might be performing in the field, the news media kept to a script focused on Stinger missiles, and when they were delivered, portrayed them as magically turning the tide of the war. When the USSR withdrew, the news media played up the absurd idea that they had been "defeated" by resistance forces which had in fact inflicted very little damage on them, rather than the Soviets having decided on their own time and terms that there were no benefits to be had from staying, as was actually the case. The image created was that the CIA, whatever its faults, and whatever mistakes it had made in Afghanistan and elsewhere, had ultimately pulled off a master stroke of orchestrating the military defeat of the rival superpower by proxy. Although there was a tendency to believe their own PR/BS , those in the upper levels of the agency knew that most of the aid money had gone to arms dealers for limited quantities of weapons poorly suited for the type of warfare. They knew what the US defeat had been like in Vietnam, and could see that what the Soviets had experienced in Afghanistan was nothing in comparison. However, with the US government heavily dependant on the CIA for assessment of what had taken place, they were essentially able to write their own performance evaluation, with Charlie Wilson and the neocons supporting them and their version of history. Those CIA case officers who had taken part were, however, liabilities unless they were 100% on board with the Israeli/neocon agenda, because even if the supported the general story, they might reveal specific facts which, when pieced together and compared to the overall story, might expose the impossibility of the latter. Gust Avrakotos was the sort of malcontent who though able to be manipulated, was not beyond bucking the authority of his manipulators in the same way he had pushed back against those officially in positions over him. Thus, both those at the highest levels of the CIA, as well as those who had used and protected him during the Afghanistan operation, did not want him around or in the lime light. The other case agents who had been involved were similarly sorted out; those judged unconditionally loyal to the idea that the interests of Israel and the US have 100% overlap were rewarded and moved into positions where they could continue to be used. Those who might question that idea and place the interests of the US ahead of Israeli interests were shunted off into obscurity.
So, after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Charlie Wilson was brought out to CIA headquarters to be honored by the CIA; ostensibly for his role in the "defeat of the Soviets", but actually for the war in Afghanistan having rehabilitated the CIA in the eyes of the US public and politicians. The ceremony played up the "defeat of the Soviets" aspect, and made Wilson seem a shrewd strategist, a brilliant politician, and absolutely heroic. Avrakotos was not there. A number of other CIA case officers with an interest in the matter were; Aldrich Ames, the Soviet mole in charge of counter espionage against the Soviets, was, and as usual suppressing his true emotions and acting fully in character (though one must assume that once he left Langely he spent the remainder of the day laughing), as were several of the other Soviet moles. Those Israeli agents who had been manipulating and protecting Avrakotos were there, along with some of their fellows who were engaged in similar, but far lower profile, operations directed elsewhere. Undoubtedly, moles working for the Chinese and several other hostile governments were also in attendance.
The ceremony lionizing Wilson and celebrating the success of the CIA was thus the perfect farce to cap off what had been several years of what could only be described as theater of the absurd.
The neocons and the rise of the Taliban
Most of the details of the deal arrived at between the US and the Soviets on the post-withdrawal fate of Afghanistan remain secret. It was obviously intended that the communist Afghan government would hold on to power and gradually incorporate the less principled and most corrupt elements of the resistance into either the formal government or an informal power sharing arrangement where they had autonomy in their rural areas and there was an armed truce between them and the communists. First, though, the resistance needed to be drawn into some bloody and indecisive military engagements against the communists which it was hoped would cause the various factions to blame one another for the failures and loses, and intensify the fighting among them.
The Soviets and the Americans apparently thought that those Afghans who had sided with the communists all during the war would be forced to continue to fight for the communist side because they would be shown no mercy if the resistance prevailed. (This explains in large part why the neocon aid program heavily favored the fanatical fundamentalists over the more moderate factions of the resistance; fear of the rabid fundamentalists making the communists want to avoid failure and/or surrender at any costs.) However, in the classic manner of Afghan ethnic, tribal, and political intrigues, the more pragmatic fundamentalists persuaded the most powerful Afghan communist militia commander to bring his forces over to the resistance side, while they and the pragmatic fundamentalists allied against the fanatical fundamentalists. This derailed the Soviet-US plan and put the non-communist resistance in power in Kabul minus the faction which had been expected to be the strongest element on the resistance side and which the post-Zia Pakistani leaders had also thought they could best manipulate. Thus, the fanatical Pathan ethnic elements of the resistance began to attack the pragmatic fundamentalists, more secular moderate factions, and traditionalists (i.e. feudalists/royalists) who made up the new government. That new government wanted to remain politically independent, not controlled by either its neighbors Iran and Pakistan, or the major powers, US and post-USSR Russia. Just as the Afghan government was getting things under control and suppressing the familiar fanatical fundamentalists, the Taliban began to emerge and started gaining control of much of the countryside in the Pathan areas.
Initially, the Taliban were somewhat enigmatic. One analyst (who does not support conspiracy theories involving the British Royalty and/or secret societies) notes that in that early period the Taliban's agenda was obscure even to the Afghans, and they seemed to be promoting and instituting policies that had been put forward by the British government as being those which would bring stability and development to Afghanistan. This leads to the conclusion that Britain was providing funding to the Taliban in that early period, certainly with the approval of the US, and likely acting as an intermediary for US funds. It is not known whether the Taliban were intended to actually seize power or just be a threat to put pressure on the Afghan government, but they gained momentum that could not be stopped, and soon took control of much of the countryside and finally Kabul. The US, while claiming to be appalled by the Taliban's brutal and reactionary religious system of government, continued to attempt to get their cooperation on gas pipelines and other matters, and refused to help those Afghans fighting against them. This situation continued through the late 1990s. Then, apparently because they could not obtain the sorts of concessions they wanted from the Taliban, the neocons decided to oust them with military force and put a cooperative government of their own choosing into power. It will be left to the reader to connect the dots between the neocons deciding that the Taliban had to go, and the events that led to the US invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent establishment of the Karzai government.
Do you have additional dirt on Charlie, his Mossad handlers, or the sellout of the Afghans?
Email it, or the URL to link to it, to:
morewarts at charliewilsonswarts dot com
For an expanded version of the chronology of the war and US aid to the Afghans, go to:
copyright 2007-2008 Charliewilsonswarts.com Material on this page can be used for non-commercial purposes if credit is given with the URL of this page, and a link back to this page is included in web pages using such material, or the material credited and the URL included in materials in printed form.